Is Fear of the Unknown Stalling Your Wedding Planning Progress?
Hey engaged friend, You’re probably here because the title of this post resonated with you. Maybe you’re newly engaged and afraid to begin planning your wedding because you don’t know when COVID will be over. Maybe you’ve been engaged for a while and you’re looking at the reality of postponement or you’ve already postponed once, twice, three times. No matter what side of the engagement spectrum you find yourself on, I want to start by telling you that you’re not alone. I talk to dozens of couples every week. From our 1:1 wedding planning clients to prospective clients to couples in our Wedding Planning Membership to couples in Facebook groups and each and every one of you is feeling the same things. Frustration. Fear. Loss. Anxiety. Hopelessness. Confusion. You are not alone in your feelings. They are valid & they are normal. Many of you are stuck in paralysis. You don’t know how to move forward. How to decide whether to postpone (again) or to keep planning for your wedding date. Many of you are newly engaged and have seen 2020 and 2021 couples lose deposits, lose hope, lose their vision of their dream wedding and you’re afraid. What if it happens to me? We didn’t think this would last as long as it has, who’s to say we won’t be in the same place this time next year? I want to repeat, you are not alone in your feelings. They are valid & they are normal. Have you ever been in an underground cave? My husband and I went to one in Kentucky on a trip once. While it initially didn’t seem like a big deal to be in an underground cave, by the time we made it down there I was a little nervous. I mean, we were really underground. It was dark. I had no idea where I was going or how to get out. And if a crisis happened… like the roof caving in above us, I wouldn’t have known what to do. That’s why they don’t let you go into underground caves without a tour guide. I heard a statistic recently that something like 62% of couples is planning their wedding without a Planner. Maybe you’re one of them. Friends, the metaphorical roof is caving in above you. Between a pandemic with an unknown expiration date, 1 in 4 small businesses closing (the events industry being one of the hardest-hit), loved ones getting sick… your ideals are literally being buried as the roof caves in. I know it sounds dramatic, but I know you can feel it in your fear. You’re afraid of losing money. You’re afraid of getting a year into this experience to only have it be postponed. You’re afraid you won’t have the wedding you’ve been dreaming of. And that fear is keeping you from making decisions. You need a tour guide. You need someone who has navigated this path before. Who’s been trained in this specific type of crisis management. Someone who knows the questions to ask, the steps to take, how to make the tough calls and how to help you choose the right path for you. For my first time ever, I am going to type the words, you NEED a Wedding Planner. I’m sure some of you just rolled your eyes. “Of course she says I need a Wedding Planner, she is a Wedding Planner.” Yes, that’s true, but more than anything, I want you to experience the relief of knowing you’re not in this alone. Try it. Schedule a consultation with a Wedding Planner. Any Wedding Planner. I’m not even suggesting it be us. Schedule a call though and just see how you feel afterward. Do you feel supported? Do you feel heard? Do you feel led? Do you feel finally like you’re not in this alone? If you do, then hire them. I totally understand how decision paralysis can set in and you're not sure what the right call is to make. The truth is there are dozens of more decisions just like this one that you're going to face during planning. I get that the cost is high and so are the emotions, so I want you to have someone to guide you through them. If you don’t believe me, listen to what Lesly & Shane said. A couple who originally did not think they needed a Wedding Planner. To find out if we’re the right partner for you, schedule a free call to meet us and decide for yourself. Schedule your free consultation now
How to Plan a Wedding: Selecting the Right Venue for You
In case you’re new around here, we are 4 weeks into a series walking newly engaged couples through an easy to follow, step by step process to planning their wedding. We’ve covered whether your wedding budget determines your guest list or the other way around, which to hire first: your Chicago Wedding Planner or your Chicago Wedding Venue, & last week we looked at the order in which we recommend you book your Chicago wedding vendors in. This week we’re going to take a deep dive into how to select the right Chicago Wedding Venue for you. Before we dive into the how let’s talk about WHY this topic is so important. I can’t tell you how many couples I talk to after they’ve already booked their venue who are essentially, “venue poor”. They’ve poured so much of their budget into the venue that they now are working with scraps for the remainder of their planning. This results in 1 of 2 things. Either they end up cutting a lot of things that they really wanted to remain in their budget or they end up going over budget, usually by a lot. It’s a big problem. So let’s talk about HOW to effectively select the right venue for your wedding. Before we can get into the venue conversation we need to know a few things: Your all-in wedding budget How many guests you are inviting A basic idea of what your catering vision is A basic idea of your decor vision Where you are planning on hosting your ceremony If you plan to hire a band or a DJ Knowing all of these details are going to help you narrow down the hundreds of wedding venues to the one that is just right for you. Your All-In Wedding Budget Compared to the All-In Cost to Rent the Venue Your all-in wedding budget matters because you’re going to need to be able to run the numbers before committing. If the venue costs $10K to rent and has in-house catering with a $25K minimum and includes all of the rentals & staff you’d need, your venue costs $35K. But if your venue rental is $5000, has a preferred catering list with an average $200pp catering cost, doesn’t include any rentals and you’re inviting 150 people… assuming (for easy math) the average chair costs $5 to rent and the average table costs $15 to rent plus a $20 linen per table, that venue costs at least $36,625 to rent. If your all-in budget for your wedding is $50K this is going to leave you approximately $15K for photo, film, planning, entertainment, floral & decor, stationery, and whatever else you’re potentially wanting to include in your wedding. With this scenario, you’ll likely end up having to cut SOMETHING, possibly a few things. This is why understanding your all-in budget compared to the actual cost to rent the venue is so important. Your Guest List vs The Size of the Venue Guys, DO NOT book a venue based on how many guests you think will show up. Book a venue based on how many you’re actually inviting. If you invite 250 and book a venue for 200 because you assume that 50 will decline and then 30 of those 50 actually come, we are in for a NIGHTMARE when it comes to seating and layout. And the first thing that will get cut is your dance floor. Literally no one wants that. Your Catering Vision vs The Venue’s Catering Policies I had a couple that loved a venue. I mean LOVED a venue. It was exactly what they pictured for their wedding. It seemed like a no brainer. Except that the venue had in-house catering that the couple was required to use. Sometimes that’s not a problem, but this couple wanted a fusion of Indian and Mexican food and this is NOT what the venue’s in-house catering specialized in. It wasn’t that the in house catering wasn’t delicious food, they just didn’t have the experience with the type of food they were wanting to serve enough to ensure successful execution of their menu. Here’s why this is important. If this couple hadn’t known ahead of time that this is what they wanted, they probably would have booked a venue that they loved, but ultimately been disappointed, and possibly even regretted their decision when it came time for the tasting. If your vision is 5 food trucks for your guests to interact with, then make sure you book a venue with a lot or with large enough doors and ceilings to accommodate and an open catering policy. If you want a fusion menu, book a venue that has a caterer on their list that can create custom, fusion menus or book a venue with an open catering policy. If you love a venue but are on a more restrictive budget and their least expensive catering option is coming in at an average of $200pp, it probably isn’t the right venue for you. Your Decor Vision vs. The Venues Capabilities and Rules If you want a light and airy look with lots of natural light, a venue with dark exposed brick probably isn’t the right choice, but that’s the basic stuff, right? What if you picture hanging chandeliers? Did you know you need to A. make sure that the venue has the physical ability to suspend chandeliers and B. that they’ll allow it? Some venues don’t allow hanging installations. Some require that only certain vendors be booked if there are installations on the property. And most require insurance with a minimum amount of coverage. It’s important to know & understand this information before booking so you know if your visions can be accommodated or is even allowed in the venue and if it is, what policies they have in place that your florist or decorator will have to follow. If they have a specific set of vendors that are pre-approved for installation work, you should do the work before booking to see what their average investments are to make sure you can afford them. Another more basic example of this is candles. Make sure your venue allows candles if you want candles. Your Ceremony Location vs Your Reception Venue If you plan to host your ceremony at the same location as your reception, make sure you understand if there are additional costs, what the flip looks like during cocktail hour, and what the flow of the guests throughout the night will be. If you plan to host your ceremony at a church or other offsite property, take into consideration the drive between the 2 venues. I don’t care how much you want to argue with me about it, hosting your ceremony at a church downtown and reception a venue in the suburbs is a terrible idea. Don’t do it. Your Desired Entertainment vs The Venue’s Capacity + Tech Setup Bands take up a lot of space, so just because your venue can comfortably accommodate 250 people, when you account for a band, it might be more like 200. If you’re inviting 250 and plan on hiring a band, then a venue that can only fit 200 people with a band, won’t be a good fit. The layout will be too tight and like I mentioned above, the first thing to get trimmed is your dance floor. But even if you’re not having a band, it’s important to understand the tech setup of your venue. Most DJs require access to electricity and internet. While this sounds like an easy, duh, of course, my venue has these things, if you’re at an outdoor property or hosting your wedding in a country setting, it might not be as easy as plugging it in & connecting to wifi. Make sure you understand what their capabilities are in terms of tech & electricity before booking. Understanding how all of these components work together will help you narrow down the venue that is right for you! Wondering if you need a Wedding Planner? TAKE THE QUIZ & FIND OUT NOW
How to Plan a Wedding: What Order to Book Your Vendors In
We’re in week 3 of a series walking you through the step by step process of planning your wedding. In week 1, we talked about whether you should determine your wedding budget or guest list first & last week we took a dive into whether to book your Chicago wedding venue or Chicago Wedding Planner/Coordinator first. And now that you have your wedding budget, your guest list, your Venue, and your Wedding Planner/Coordinator, we’re going to take a look at what order you should book your Chicago wedding vendors in. The first step to this is to determine your priorities. I’ll give you the exact order we recommend our clients book in, BUT we also customize this process based on their specific needs and priorities. Here’s what I mean by this: if you have a hairstylist you’ve been following on IG for the last 2 years and can’t imagine anyone else doing your hair for your wedding, BOOK THEM as soon as you have a date. While we absolutely have a process we guide our clients through, customize this order how it makes sense for YOU. It’s important to remember that for wedding vendors, our calendar is our inventory, and most of the time, we can’t just make more of it. So if there’s a key piece to your wedding vision, book that vendor at the top, regardless of where it falls on our list. Now, wedding pros. I see you. Before I even get into this list I can hear some of you rolling your eyes from here. Our job as wedding planners are to create systems for our clients to follow and the reality is (or should be) that every single one of you requires a retainer payment and for most couples, it’s just not possible to pay every vendor a retainer payment at the same time. It’s also a giant pain in the ass to be interviewing dozens of vendors simultaneously. So yes, we have created a system to help our clients simplify their process and some of you are at the top of our process and some of you are at the bottom. It is what it. Ok, now that we have all of that out of the way, let’s get into the vendor booking system. We break our planning process down into 4 phases. Phase 1: Vendor Booking: Begins immediately after setting a budget & guest list and finishes at least 8 months before the wedding. Phase 2: Design & Logistics: Begins 8 months before the wedding & finishes at least 4 months before the wedding. Phase 3: Reconciliation: Begins 4 months before the wedding & finishes at least 2 weeks before the wedding. Phase 4: The Wedding Day Vendor bookings will happen in both phases 1 & 2, with the goal being to have all vendors secured no later than 6 months before the wedding. In Phase 1 we book the following vendors in the following order: Photographer Caterer Videographer Entertainment Officiant Then, in Phase 2, we book the following vendors in the following order: Hair & Makeup Florist Stationery Cake Room blocks Transportation Again, this list can be totally customized to fit your needs & priorities. We’ve had couples book their caterer as their 1st vendor because they really wanted to know those numbers before securing other contracts. We’ve had a bride book a hairstylist who specializes in boho braids first because they loved her work so much. We’ve had a client say photo was their bottom priority and it was the last thing we booked (though I’ll admit, this one gave me heart palpitations and nightmares for months). I cannot stress enough to DO YOU, but when it doubt, this booking order should give you some guidance on who to talk to next. Next week, we’re going to go back in the planning process a bit & take a deeper dive into booking your venue with tips on how to select the right venue for you. Wondering if you need a Wedding Planner? TAKE THE QUIZ & FIND OUT NOW
How to Plan a Wedding: Venue or Planner 1st?
If you’re following along, last week we talked through which should come first, the guest list or the budget. We talked about why it’s so important to set your budget first and how your budget actually determines how many guests you can invite. So now that we have a budget and guest list, the next step is to decide if you should book your venue or hire a Planner first. This answer is pretty simple, actually. It depends on if you want a Planner’s help from the very beginning of the planning process. I recommend you have a few consultations with different Planners early on to understand the benefits of various service levels, as well as the investment level. If you decide you’re interested in Full-Service planning, you’ll get the most out of your investment by booking your Planner before any other vendors. If you decide you’re interested in some sort of partial, a la carte or Wedding Management (AKA Day of Coordination) service, then I’d book your venue first so you have that date secured and then book with your Planner. Now, you might be asking yourself, “if I’m booking a Planner for Wedding Management (or Day of Coordination) do I really need to secure that contract so early?” The short answer is, no, you definitely don’t have to, but I’m all about getting the most out of your investment in a Planner, whatever the service level is. Most Planners offer some sort of guidance throughout the planning process for their wedding management clients. Whether that’s in the form of access to their client planning portal with resources for planning (think checklists, budgets, vendor recs, guest management tools, etc), monthly check-in emails, unlimited email communication, or something else that will serve you throughout your planning process. So the earlier you book your Planner, even for Wedding Management (or Day of Coordination) the more you’re going to get out of that investment over the long term. Next week we’ll be talking about what order you should book your wedding vendors in, but in the meantime, schedule a few consultations with some local wedding planners (you can schedule one with us here) to decide what service level is best for you & then start working on finding your wedding venue (YAY!) Wondering if you need a Wedding Planner? TAKE THE QUIZ & FIND OUT NOW
How To Plan a Wedding: Budget or Guest List 1st?
You’re engaged! Congrats! You’ve posted your ring selfies, FaceTimed your friends, called your parents… and now what? The first 2 steps of planning your wedding are going to be to determine your budget and guest list. But which comes first? YOUR BUDGET Your budget determines how many guests you can invite to your wedding, not the other way around. So first determine what your all-in wedding budget is and THEN work to create a guest list. But once you know your budget, how do you determine how many people you can invite? There are a few ways to do this. Connect with a local Wedding Planner and ask what the average PP cost is of catering in your local area. Do a search for local wedding caterers and check out their website to see their average range of cost PP for wedding menus. Connect in some local Facebook groups and ask other couples what their PP catering cost is. Why does this all keep coming back to catering? Because catering is going to be the most variable cost you experience when planning your wedding. If the average cost of catering in your area is $150pp - inviting 100 people will cost you $15K in catering alone. Inviting 200 will cost you $30K. See? Your budget has to come first. It only creates frustration to start with deciding there are 200 people you want to invite and try to make those 200 people fit into a $40K budget versus deciding you have a $40K budget and working backward to decide how many guests you can invite. Next week we’ll talk about whether you should book your venue or Planner first, but in the meantime, determine that wedding budget & start doing some research on how many guests you might be able to invite on that budget. Wondering if you need a Wedding Planner? TAKE THE QUIZ & FIND OUT NOW
When Should I Get Married?
If you’re one of the 100K couples that got engaged over the holidays (an unverified statistic as always used to make a point) then you’re probably deep in the debate of whether to host a 2021, 2022, or maybe even a 2023 wedding. What year you get married in is going to depend on a few factors: How flexible you are. Look, COVID is throwing everything for a loop. Last year we had guidelines everywhere from no weddings to 100 guests outdoors in the city of Chicago back to no weddings by the end of the year. If you’re going to get married in 2021, you have to be flexible. I keep hearing from couples “but the vaccine”, but there’s no guarantee on WHEN we’ll have the herd immunity needed to allow for large events. IL has also been a very cautious when it comes to opening up the state for “business as usual”, so even when we have herd immunity in 2021, I doubt we’ll go balls to the walls with guest counts. Besides just COVID factors, 2021 is packed with postponements from 2020 & we’ll start to see even more (into 2022 most likely) from Winter and Spring 2021 weddings that have or will postpone as well. That being said, if you’re newly engaged and are set on getting married in 2021, you need to be flexible on your date, what day of the week you get married, and your venue/vendor selection. Which leads me to next point. Your vision/ideal for your wedding. If you have any part of your weddings that are non-negotiables that could even potentially be impacted by COVID safety guidelines or availability constraints due to postponements, you’re going to want to plan for 2022 (soon) or possibly even early 2023. If you have a dream venue or must get married during one of 2 weeks in July because of work or can’t possibly imagine having your wedding on any day of the week other than a Saturday or have a photographer you’ve been stalking on IG for years, you’re going to want to plan for 2022 or 2023 so that you can preserve your ideal. Where is your line in the sand? It’s important to decide what your non-negotiables are when planning your wedding, even without a pandemic, but when trying to decide if 2021, 2022, or 2023 is the best year for you to get married, you need to know where your line in the sand is and to decide if that line is likely to be flirted with in 2021. For example, masks. If masks are a no go for you, 2021 is not the year for your wedding. Is it possible that we could end the year mask-free? Sure, but as you already know, weddings are a big expense and as you’ve already heard, postponements are a pain & can be even more expensive. If there’s even a chance that 2021 could cross your pre-determined boundaries, plan for 2022 or 2023. Your financial situation. Let’s take 2021 out of the picture for this one and just talk about how to decide if you should get married in 2022 or 2023. This is going to be largely determined by your financial situation. I want to preface with there is zero budget shame here, we’re just talking about your financial viability for planning a wedding in 2022 or 2023. The big question here is: do you, or whoever is contributing to the budget, have access to liquid cash for deposits & retainers? We already discussed the likelihood of more postponements into 2022 because of winter & spring event limitations due to COVID, and the potential for more as the year goes on. The truth is, we just don’t know, so if you’re wanting to preserve your ideal wedding in 2022, you need to start interviewing and booking venues and vendors now. If you don’t have the liquid cash to make those retainer payments, then it’s best to start saving now and start planning for 2023 later this year. Planning a wedding in 2021 might not be the easiest thing you’ve ever done, but begin by determining when you should get married and the rest of the pieces will start to fall into place. Wondering if you need a Wedding Planner? TAKE THE QUIZ & FIND OUT NOW
Our Favorite Wedding Moments Ever
With the shithole that is 2020 coming to a close, we were in desperate need of some JOY over here at LRE HQ. So we went reminiscing through old wedding photos and made a list of our favorite wedding moments ever. Come cry along with us as we take you down memory lane. Important note: these are all tied for first place and are listed in no particular order! Becky & Brian Dancing Their Asses Off When Becky & Brian got married back in 2018, it was a looooong day. It was an early start to getting ready with an early afternoon ceremony at Madonna della Strada Chapel and a late evening black-tie reception at The Drake. Without spilling all of their tea, there was some light drama and tears shed on the wedding day, so to see them dancing their asses off after their mid-reception outfit change, was one of the best moments. The most heartbreaking experience for us is when couples to get to the end of their wedding day & feel like the investment (emotional, time, financial) wasn't worth it. I was so worried that's where we were headed, when I saw this. Turns out Becky & Brian had a fab time & we're so stoked that they did! Marcelo's Surprise Serenade to Melissa Melissa gifted Marcelo with a new guitar for his wedding gift. Marcelo decided to thank her by serenading her mid-ceremony and bringing Melissa & the entire group of guests and vendors to tears. Photos by: Danielle Marie Images Handstand Competition at Cassie & Mike's Wedding Mike started practicing gymnastics in college and there's a little tradition that at every wedding, the gymnast friends participate in a handstand competition. The goal is to stay on your hands as long as possible and as each contestant falls they are eliminated. It was so fun & the winner was their friend, Wronk (blue shirt, pinstripes pants, excellent form) Darcy's Walk With Her Mom & Dance With Her Brother Darcy's dad had a medical emergency just before the start of her ceremony that led to him being hospitalized. It was hands down the hardest thing our team has ever experienced on a wedding day. The wedding continued with Darcy walking down the aisle with her mom and dancing a brother/sister dance with her brother in place of the dance with her dad. Dad ended up being ok & was released from the hospital the next morning. Photos by: Maria Campbell Photography Ashley Losing Her Shit During Her Vows If you've been around here longer than a month, you've probably seen this photo because it's one of my all time favorites. Ashley feels alllll the feels on the daily and her wedding day was no different. Girl tried SO HARD to get through her vows but just couldn't. There was laughter and so so many happy tears creating an absolutely unforgettable moment! Marlyn & Daniel's Wedding Photo Shoot When I tell you this couple went through it all during their 2-year engagement, I mean IT ALL. A surprise pregnancy (her name is Delimar and she's the cutest), a venue bankruptcy, one COVID postponement, a micro-ceremony, and finally a COVID cancellation. But one thing we DID do is create a wedding photo shoot with their photographer where they got all glammed and got their keepsake photos. Janis & Jinsol Rehearsing Their First Dance Janis isn't one to love attention. She's pretty introverted & got overwhelmed with the attention and constant pull in every direction of the wedding day. She was also feeling very overwhelmed by the looming first dance that she & Jinsol had decided to choreograph to their favorite song from Lala Land. During cocktail hour J&J snuck away for a quiet moment and a quick rehearsal before their big moment. Their photographer, Sean Cook, was able to catch the sweet moment. And their first dance?? IT WAS A HIT! Photos by: Sean Cook Weddings Annette & Martin's Ceremony When I met Annette & Martin they expressed how important it was to them to create a wedding day that honored both of their cultures (Black Southern Culture & Mexican Culture). We had so many fun ways we did this, but my favorite part of the day was the way they structured their ceremony to reflect both of their cultural marriage traditions. From having two priests each from their own religious denomination to having half of the ceremony be performed in Spanish and the inclusion of Las Arras, the lasso unity ceremony, and the jumping of the broom. Their ceremony was completely custom & inclusive of the multi-cultural family they were creating. Kunal's Surprise Poetry Reading Kunal has long written poems for Paige about his love for her, so it only made sense for him to surprise her with a reading of a poem he wrote for their wedding day. I'm crying, you're crying, we're all crying. The best part is that their magician wedding filmmaker, Hampton Roads, took the audio & put it as the sound to their wedding film. Video by: Hampton Road Studios Mike's Vows Ok, so Cassie & Mike were already featured once, but Mike's Vows are easily the best vows I have ever heard. They were funny, sweet, sentimental. When I tell you that everyone in that room laughed and cried and laughed some more... it was pure magic. Nick's Brother's Virtual Appearance Before COVID was a thing, Nick's brother's wife had a baby like 3 days before Nick's wedding & was no longer able to attend. So we set up an iPad on a stand, taped a boutonniere to the iPad & had him FaceTime into the wedding as Best Man. He put on his suit & everything! It was pure GOLD. Then he called in later to give his Best Man speech! Who knew they'd end up being streets ahead of 2020 weddings? 2020 may not have had as many weddings & magical moments as we expected, but we're so excited to make more memories with you all in 2021! Wondering if you need a Wedding Planner? TAKE THE QUIZ & FIND OUT NOW
The 4 Things Guests Complain About Most at Weddings
A few days ago I posted a question asking my IG followers what the worst thing they've ever seen at a wedding was. I expected answers about color palettes and bridesmaids' dresses, but the answers were so revealing. We ask every couple we talk with why they're hosting a wedding (verses eloping) and what they are most excited about on the wedding day. Almost all of the answers revolve around guests & gathering together. We know you want to create a memorable & fun experience for your loved ones! Otherwise, you wouldn't be hosting a wedding. So what are the things your guests are most likely to complain about after (or even worse - during) the wedding? BAD CATERING EXPERIENCES From running out of food to plastic bowls filled with Doritos & ham and cheese sandwiches for dinner we heard story after story of bad catering experiences. The reality is that on your wedding day you are in this super strange position of both guests of honor AND host. You cannot forget that you are HOSTING people. Now, there are pieces of this job that can & should be delegated, but spending the budget with guests in mind is something only you can do & this first and foremost means thoughtful food. Some things to think through when planning your catering experience: food that will please most people, allergies & vegan/vegetarian dietary restrictions (forget Cousin Becky's keto preferences), buffet/station/bar/food truck wait times, dinner service times, and ensuring there is enough food served that your guests won't be hungry. Golden rule: hungry guests are grumpy guests. BAD PLANNING & EXECUTION Not reserving a ceremony location & assuming it would be magically available, escort cards not alphabetized, no one directing guests where to go/what to do when couple & family left for photos... so many examples of bad planning & execution. Honestly friends, just hire a Wedding Planner. You don't have to fork out $6-10K for full service, but you should at least have a professional guiding you through the planning process, helping you avoid costly & embarrassing mistakes and helping you execute in the final months. BAD SPEECHES I have some of my own bad speeches stories, but most of our couples follow us even after their weddings, so I'm going to keep those stories to myself, but I read anecdotes of everything from moms breaking out into unexpected songs to Maids of Honor serving up backhanded compliments and Best Men mentioning exes and illegal college escapades. Speeches are uniquely placed in the day's events that they can set a super awkward tone right as you're going into the party... not to mention, many times they're being recorded. We send all speech givers some tips before the wedding, but if you're not an LRE client and are looking for some tried and true tips from some industry pros, check out this video from NightOwls Media on How To Give the BEST Best Man/MOH Speech. A WAY TOO DRUNK _________ Grooms hiding under tables drinking straight from the bottle, bridesmaids being carried down the aisle, moms screaming at brides on the dance floor, brides crying in bathrooms & refusing to go to the reception... I could literally go on and on. Most of the responses we received were telling horror stories of people getting wayyy too drunk and embarrassing not only themselves but the couple & their families. Have a conversation with your VIPs about expectations surrounding liquor consumption, talk with your bartending/catering manager about cutting off guests who have had too much to drink & assign a Wedding Day Decision Maker who can ask a guest (yes, even a VIP) to leave if they're starting to act out of hand. Wondering if you need a Wedding Planner? TAKE THE QUIZ & FIND OUT NOW
How to Make the Most of a Downsized Wedding
Well, friends, it happened. I got my first email in 6 months with "Hey Alexis, wanted to know if you have some time to connect next week to discuss the possibility of postponing our 2021 wedding to 2022." What's that sound? Oh, just another piece of my soul being murdered by 2020. I want to preface with I THINK IT IS FARRR TOO EARLY to have these conversations for any weddings earlier than May of next year. As we've learned this year, there is so much that can change in just a few short months, but I know for all of our postponed 2020 couples and our didn't-think-COVID-was-going-to-affect-us 2021 couples, the anxiety is beginning to creep in. So let's just bring the scary monster out of the shadow of the closet & talk about it. What if COVID is still trying to cancel love next year? First of all, we learned this year that love is definitely not canceled, but so many of you postponed because you didn't want a small wedding and while of course you always have the option to postpone again, I think many of you are not about that life again and I anticipate postponements becoming more expensive than they were this year as even more vendors start to charge postponement fees. So let's talk about how to make the most of a downsized wedding. HOW TO MAKE THE MOST OF CONTRACTED MINIMUMS Food If you're in the position to potentially need to downsize your wedding, you likely already know that catering takes up a huuuuuge part of your budget. If you're contracted into a minimum or you've already paid more on your catering bill than you will likely spend on 50 guests, talk to your caterer about what types of food experiences you can add to meet the minimum/utilize what you've spent. Most of our catering friends in Chicago have the capability to create these insanely creative culinary & bar experiences! Whether you add hand passed mini margs like our friends at Entertaining Company offer, a savory late-night snack to help soak up some of that liq, really BEEF up (heh, see what I did there) your dinner service or all of the above. Floral Many of our floral friends have minimum spend amounts and while in a COVID world they're getting super flexible on this, there's also a certain point where they don't make enough money to make the job worth it and some of you have already paid more than you'd utilize towards your floral invoice with your new anticipated guest count. So how do you make the most of a floral minimum? LIVE YOUR WILDEST FLORAL DREAMS BOO BOO! Only have 5 centerpieces now? Then go lux with it & really make a statement or ask your florist to create mini bouquets for your ushers to hand to each woman as she arrives or add a bloom to every place setting to make a statement or add that statement piece that was out of budget when you thought you were hosting 250 guests! Stationery With Stationery being a physical product (and the post office being an absolute disaster) it's likely that if you're already talking about downsizing your 2021 wedding that your Stationer has already ordered the paper, which means you're locked into what you've contracted. Talk with your Stationer about how to make the most out of the product you've paid for, but some ideas, some lux place cards or menus, turn them into thank you cards for after the wedding, or add an extra insert into your invitations! HOW TO MAKE THE MOST OF THE DOWNSIZED GUEST COUNT So here's the first thing, you just have to accept it for what it is. Would you have liked to have 250 people at your wedding to make it absolute rager? Maybe. But if you're thinking you might potentially have to downsize the wedding, the first step is acceptance. IT IS WHAT IT IS, friends. One thing we've seen this year which I personally think has made these weddings even sweeter is finding ways to include everyone who is in attendance in the wedding. One of our past couples did a family unity ceremony where every guest was given a candle when they walked in and they passed the flame through the guests that were seated, up to the parents and finally to the bride and groom who lit their unity candle together. It's a totally COVID friendly ceremony, so long as everyone is wearing masks, and with only 50 people in attendance, won't take long to do at all. & the reality is that when you're looking at a guest count of 50 people, most likely everyone there is pretty high on the relational ladder, which makes including them in your marriage ceremony even sweeter. Now, what about the guests that had to get cut or would have made the list, but couldn't or weren't comfortable attending? I LOVE TECHNOLOGY! It has made this COVID thing so much more bearable than it would have been without. I don't know about you, but March-July of this year was brought to me directly by Doordash, Tiger King, and Tik Tok. More than likely someone on your wedding team can or knows someone who can set up a live stream experience for all of the guests who couldn't attend to still witness your ceremony. Some streaming experiences (like Be There from our friends at Cage + Aquarium) even have the capability to create virtual experiences for your guests so they too can enjoy your wedding. It might even be worth a convo with your caterer or florist to see if it's possible to send grandpa his boutonniere or send a marg kit to the guests that couldn't attend. If a VIP member can't make it (like a sibling who would have played a key role in the wedding), have them put on their suit/dress and zoom in. Put an iPad on a stand so that they can still stand up at your wedding. For speeches, have them call in and put your DJs mic up to the phone so they can still give their speech. So look, I know this is not your ideal, but there are definitely ways to make this whole intimate wedding thing suuuuper special and go all out in a way you wouldn't have been able to if all of your anticipated guests attended. Wondering if you need a Wedding Planner? TAKE THE QUIZ & FIND OUT NOW
How to Host a Backyard Wedding
COVID has brought back the Backyard Wedding trend and I'm not mad about it. Backyard weddings are special. With twinkle lights in the sky, fresh air, and bonfires, backyard weddings feel like taking a deep breath. My favorite weddings I've ever produced have been outdoor, backyard-feel weddings. But they are not easy to plan! There are tasks that need to be completed and considerations to be made that aren't on your average Pinterest wedding planning checklist. Here is a list of all the preparations for a backyard wedding: Lit, even level, and trimmed paths (suitable for heels and elderly) that are both to and from parking, bathrooms, catering area, etc. Trees trimmed for shuttles Gate wide enough for shuttles Place where shuttles can idle that is not in the way and is legal Power/generators/plenty of outlets and power cords that blend with décor but do not create safety hazards Catering tent, access to power and make sure they have a bathroom with handwashing available. Lawn care Even ground for under the dance floor Dance floor Ample Parking - for guests and vendors Permits (sound, alcohol, tent, etc.- this varies by state) Emergency Plan Low water crossing maps Maps pending GPS does not work well Clear signage (parking attendants can be helpful) Proper draining of event space pending rain Understanding of where the sunset is for photos Rain plan Road conditions in case of rain Restroom/comfort stations Pest control: Mosquitos, ants, snakes, varmints Trash plan Temperature control: fans, heaters, misters (tents require specific units for safety) Getting ready and staging locations Tent installation needs and lighting for when it gets dark Wondering if you need a Wedding Planner? TAKE THE QUIZ & FIND OUT NOW
6 Can't Miss Wedding Day Moments
Remember Jim & Pam's wedding on The Office when Pam says a friend gave her the advice to take mental pictures of the high points of the day? DON'T MISS THE MOMENTS!! Like, we love a good wedding. It's literally why we're here, but when the day is over all you have are the moments. After experiencing 50+ wedding days, here are our top 6 can't miss moments for your mental scrapbook. 1. That moment you finally FEEL like someone who is getting married. 2. That moment when you see each other for the first time. 3. That moment when you're F-ing married. 4. That moment when you're finally alone. 5. All the happy tears. All of the laughter & smiles. Wondering if you need a Wedding Planner? TAKE THE QUIZ & FIND OUT NOW
Your Strategic Roadmap for Planning Your 2021/2022 Wedding
I’ve been re-reading all of the blog posts I’ve written in the last 4 years that are filled to the brim with actionable tips and sound wedding planning advice and it all reads as utterly useless. As I sat down to plan my August content calendar, every topic that ran through my head felt pointless and tone-deaf. “8 Tasks to Tackle in the first 8 Weeks of Being Engaged” “Why You Need a DJ Who Also Does Weddings vs A Wedding DJ” “WTF is a… Translating Wedding Jargon into English” All worthless when couples are grappling with how the hell to plan a wedding after watching the Wedding Industry Dumpster Fire of 2020 play out on every media outlet and news station. Social distancing, mask requirements, guest limitations, no dancing, lost deposits, rescheduling fees, venues going bankrupt…. Weddings on fire. Then add in an economy on the verge of catastrophe, on-going protests in many major cities across the country & outright unknowns as to the future of our global health crisis… how do engaged couples move forward? I’ve spent the entire month of July talking to dozens of couples who want to start planning but are paralyzed with fear of the unknown. So here is my best attempt at creating a strategy for you to plan your 2021/2022 wedding as confidently as possible & hopefully avoid the tragic heartbreak that 2020 couples have experienced. Start by accepting weddings are going to look different for a while or wait. Just because you’re engaged does not mean you HAVE to get married in the next 2 years. If you absolutely cannot wrap your mind around small events with masks, social distancing & Footloose-esque bans on dancing or eloping then just wait. At this point, we have a pretty clear understanding of the possible concessions you’ll have to make if you choose to plan a wedding in the next year or so. You won’t face the possibility of compromise if you’re not already contracted into things. So, if you can’t wrap your mind around it, then it’s best to just wait it out. And if you DO decide to plan a wedding for 2021/2022, it has to be with the acceptance that it might not look the way you envisioned it. Decide on a planning path. The way I see it, if you’re planning a wedding anytime in the next 2 years, you need to pick one of 3 paths: Elopement Mini Wedding: Under 50 Guests. Plan for mini with the capability to expand: Basically plan for 50 guests in all of your contracts (so your minimums reflect your worst-case scenario - think catering, floral, invitations etc), but select a venue that has the capacity to host your best-case scenario. Just make sure to be openly communicative with your vendors that your ideal is to increase your guest count to whatever that number is so that they can effectively plan out their staffing for the year. Decide how far out you’re wanting to plan. If you’re eloping or planning a mini wedding, especially if it’s an all-inclusive offering that is super easy to execute, it’s probably not worth a 2-year wait, but if you’re taking path C, then it might be best to wait until 2022 in hopes that life will have returned to pre-COVID normalcy by that point. Break your guest list into 3 categories: A List: Your top 30-50 you can’t imagine your wedding without B List: The people you’d love to host if legally allowed C List: The people you’re feeling obligated to invite (like your mom’s bridge friend) and maybe you will if the pandemic is over (but honestly, why pay for someone you don’t want/need there?) but they aren’t critical to your wedding day. Ask every single vendor about their COVID policies before you book & get it in writing in your contract. What are their safety requirements? What are their cancellation & postponement policies? Here’s the deal, wedding pros are people too and many are understandably uncomfortable working weddings in a pandemic. You don’t have to like their policies, but if you want to work with them, you do have to respect them. So it’s better that you get this info on the front end instead of feuding with a vendor after they are booked. Create a wedding day emergency fund. I have said many times before that you need to save some of your wedding budget for unexpected emergencies and it’s never been more true. Save for the possibility of having to reprint invitations in the event of a postponement, save for postponement fees, save for additional tables and linens in case social distancing requirements mean fewer guests at each table & more tables. You should have at least a few thousand dollars to cover pandemic related expenses. Know your breaking point. At what point are you ready to call it with this whole wedding thing? I have a couple right now who lost their venue for their original date in February, then postponed 2 months later because of COVID and is now looking at having to postpone again for next year & they are seriously considering, as my bride said, “cutting our losses” and moving on with their lives. You should decide now what that line in the sand is for you & what action steps you’ll take moving forward from there. Work with a Wedding Planner. Whether it’s a Full-Service Planner, a Wedding Manager, or something like our new Wedding Planning Collective - you NEED someone who is living and breathing the wedding industry, who is now a pro at postponing an event, and who can give you real advice and actionable steps to take when shit hits the fan. Wondering if you need a Wedding Planner? TAKE THE QUIZ & FIND OUT NOW